Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that breastfeeding is the optimal method of infant feeding. It's beneficial for the baby and the mother.
Several of the benefits are listed below.
1. Protects against infections and illnesses.
2. Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies.
3. Breastfeeding enhances development and intelligence.
4. Lower incidence of sudden infant death syndrome.
5. Lowers the chances of obesity.
1. Decreases risk of several cancers and osteoporosis.
2. Promotes postpartum weight loss.
3. Mothers who breastfeed have been found to have less anxiety.
4. It decreases insulin requirements in diabetic women.
Other benefits include a stronger relationship between mother and baby, a savings of roughly $1,000 on food/formula over the first year and an overall healthier home.
While not all mothers breastfeed, and many mothers are physically unable to for a variety of reasons, we do strive to help all of our newborns and mothers use this feeding method.
Last year the majority of babies born at Portage Health were breastfed, but we're always looking to improve that number, and make those that do breastfeed more comfortable.
One of the key things to remember is the importance of the process of breastfeeding, especially during the first few days.
It's absolutely vital for a newborn to have early skin-to-skin contact with the mother, and women need help to ensure they are able to position and attach their babies at the breast.
We hear from both mothers and their caretakers that more time alone is needed.
That's part of the reason why we've changed our visitor's policy. We now allow only two guests during birth, allow no additional visitors for one hour and have defined visiting hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. daily).
We know a baby's birth is exciting, maybe the most exciting time in a family's life, but both short- and long-term health is depending on proper time between a mother and her baby.
Please respect this policy change, and understand that it will ultimately make our community a healthier place to live.
Editor's note: Cheryl Frankovich is the supervisor of the Family Birthing Center at Portage Health.